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Helen Elizabeth 'Betty' Graham

November 27, 2023


June 19, 1923 - November 27, 2023

In Loving Memory ~

Helen Elizabeth (Betty) Graham (June 19, 1923 - November 27, 2023) passed away after a long, productive, and happy life. Born in Lethbridge of parents Bill and Ella McCaffrey, Betty was predeceased by her two siblings, Dorothy Gibson and Jack McCaffrey.

Betty had a happy childhood in Lethbridge. She entered Home Economics at the University of Alberta, where she studied to become a dietician. In those days, dieticians undertook a year-long practicum after their BA; Betty moved to Toronto where she worked in the Eaton's store kitchen, designing menus, planning meals, buying product, etc. Her first job after Eaton's was with the gas company in Calgary, where she tested recipes in the Blue Flame Kitchen.

Wanting something more challenging, Betty joined the military. She worked in many locations, including France, Ottawa, and Winnipeg. In the 1960s, the military sent her to the University of Washington for a Master's degree in food science. Betty continued to rise in the ranks and take on more responsibility for the running of the messes and kitchens across the armed forces.

By the time she retired at the age of 50 in 1973 (back then, all women were required to leave the military at 50) she was the highest-ranking woman across the forces (Lieutenant Colonel, Director of Food Services). Betty was one of the first recipients given the Order of Military Merit in 1973, an award established by Queen Elizabeth II to recognize conspicuous merit and exceptional service by members of Her Majesty's Canadian Armed Forces.

In 1974, Betty wed Brigadier General Reginal Stuart (Stu) Graham, a widower who was the father of four children: Gordon, Susan (deceased), Christine and Jane. In 1979, Stu and Betty moved to Qualicum BC. In 1987, Stu assumed the appointment of Colonel the Regiment for the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The next three years were filled with travel for military events. Betty did a lot of the planning for these trips and served as a wonderful hostess in a wide range of contexts. When Stu stepped out of the role as Colonel of the Regiment, he and Betty made the most of their early retirement years in Qualicum. They loved to golf and to explore Vancouver Island.

When Stu passed away in April of 2003, Betty continued to golf and to travel. She kept up with many friends and followed the events in the Graham family, especially the addition of several grandchildren.

In 2011, Betty suffered a stroke, which left her partially paralyzed, but she was determined to live her life as normally as possible. She returned to her house and prided herself on becoming independent with the help of a team of caregivers.

On her 100th birthday in June, Betty was delighted with a party organized by her caregivers, and attended by her God-children, neighbours, friends, and two officers from the base at Comox.

Friends are encouraged to donate in Betty's memory to the Oceanside Hospice Society in Qualicum Beach or a charity of their choice. A service will take place at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Qualicum Beach, located at 138 Hoylake Road W., Qualicum Beach, BC V9K 1K3, on March 20, 2024, at 2:00 pm.

Service Details

Celebration of Life
Wednesday, March 20, 2024
2:00 PM
Anglican Church in Qualicum Beach 138 Hoylake Road W., Qualicum Beach

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